The following document, issued by a state AI governance committee, lays out ethical norms for the use of AI in China. The norms cover areas such as the use and protection of personal information, human control over and responsibility for AI, and the avoidance of AI-related monopolies. The document does not specify how these norms are to be enforced; nor does it mention any punishments for those who violate the norms.
The Chinese source text is available online at: http://www.most.gov.cn/kjbgz/202109/t20210926_177063.html
An archived version of the Chinese source text is available online at: https://perma.cc/RC4V-Q2FX
U.S. $1 ≈ 6.5 Chinese Yuan Renminbi (RMB), as of October 12, 2021.
Ethical Norms for New Generation Artificial Intelligence Released
On September 25, the National New Generation Artificial Intelligence Governance Specialist Committee published Ethical Norms for New Generation Artificial Intelligence (Ethical Norms), whose purpose is to incorporate ethics into the entire artificial intelligence (AI) life cycle and to provide ethical guidance to natural persons, legal persons, and other related institutions engaged in AI-related activities.
As the Ethical Norms passed through stages such as special investigation, focused drafting, and solicitation of opinions, full consideration was given to the ethical concerns of all sectors of today’s society about privacy, bias, discrimination, fairness, and so on. Their concerns extended to content such as general rules, ethical norms for specific activities, and organization and implementation. Ethical Norms puts forward six basic ethical requirements, namely: the advancement of human welfare, the promotion of fairness and justice, the protection of privacy and security, the assurance of controllability and trustworthiness, the strengthening of accountability, and improvements to the cultivation of ethics. It also puts forward 18 specific ethical requirements concerning AI management, research and development (R&D), supply, use, and other specific activities. The full text of the Ethical Norms is as follows:
Ethical Norms for New Generation Artificial Intelligence thoroughly implements the New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Action Plan1 and implements in a detailed manner Governance Principles for a New Generation of Artificial Intelligence.2 These norms are established in order to heighten society’s ethical awareness and behavioral consciousness of AI, actively guide responsible AI R&D and application activities, and promote healthy AI development.
Section I General Provisions
Article 1 These norms aim to incorporate ethics into the entire AI life cycle and to promote fairness, justice, harmony, and security while avoiding such problems as bias, discrimination, and privacy and information leaks.
Article 2 These norms apply to natural persons, legal persons, and other institutions engaged in AI management, R&D, supply, use, and other relevant activities. (I) “Management activities” mainly refer to AI-related strategic planning, the formulation and implementation of policies, regulations, and technical standards, the allocation of resources, and supervision and examination. (II) “R&D activities” mainly refer to AI-related scientific research, technological development, and product development. (III) “Supply activities” mainly refer to AI product and service-related production, operations, and sales. (IV) “Use activities” mainly refer to AI product and service-related purchasing, consumption, and operation.
Article 3 All types of AI activities shall comply with the basic ethical norms below. (I) Advancement of Human Welfare. Persist in being people-centered (以人为本), abide by shared human values, respect human rights and appeals to fundamental human interests, and comply with national or regional ethics. Persist in giving priority to the public interest, promote human-computer harmony and friendliness, improve the people’s livelihoods, enhance the sense of gain and the sense of well-being, advance economic, social, and ecological sustainable development, and jointly build a community of common destiny for humanity (人类命运共同体). (II) Promotion of Fairness and Justice. Uphold inclusivity and tolerance, truly protect the lawful rights and interests of each relevant entity, promote fair sharing of AI benefits by all of society, and advance social fairness and justice and equality of opportunity. When providing AI products and services, fully respect and help vulnerable groups and special groups, and provide appropriate alternatives as necessary. (III) Protection of Privacy and Security. Fully respect everyone’s right to know the extent of the use of, and to consent to the use of, their personal information. Handle personal information according to the principles of legality, propriety, necessity, and good faith, and guarantee personal privacy and data security. Do not harm individuals’ legal data rights and interests; do not steal, tamper, leak, or otherwise illegally collect or use personal information; and do not infringe upon personal privacy rights. (IV) Assurance of Controllability and Trustworthiness. Ensure that humans have fully autonomous decision-making rights and that they have the right to accept or reject AI-provided services, the right to withdraw from AI interactions at any time, and the right to terminate AI system operations at any time. Ensure that AI is always under human control. (V) Strengthening of Accountability. Insist that humans are the ultimately responsible entities. Clearly define the responsibilities of interested parties, comprehensively heighten awareness of responsibility, and exercise self-reflection and self-discipline at every link throughout the AI life cycle. Establish AI accountability mechanisms, do not avoid investigations into responsibility, and do not evade one’s own responsibilities. (VI) Improvements to the Cultivation of Ethics. Actively learn and popularize knowledge about AI ethics. Objectively understand ethical issues, and do not underestimate or exaggerate ethical risks. Actively launch or participate in discussions of AI ethical issues. Thoroughly promote the practice of AI ethical governance, and improve coping capabilities.
Article 4 The ethical norms that specific AI activities should follow include: management norms, R&D norms, supply norms, and use norms.
Section II Management Norms
Download Full TranslationEthical Norms for New Generation Artificial Intelligence Released
- Translator’s note: For an English translation of the New Generation AI Development Plan, see: https://www.newamerica.org/cybersecurity-initiative/digichina/blog/full-translation-chinas-new-generation-artificial-intelligence-development-plan-2017/
- Translator’s note: For an English translation of the Governance Principles for New Generation AI, see: https://www.newamerica.org/cybersecurity-initiative/digichina/blog/translation-chinese-expert-group-offers-governance-principles-responsible-ai/